The Perfectionist Job Search: Ali Benson’s Job Search Success Story

When your dream job is in a niche field, plus you’re a perfectionist, you may have a tendency to overthink your job search.

Ali Benson shares how she got over perfect and made peace with “good enough” to gain more traction in her job search. She ultimately landed in a role that’s a great fit for her, contributing to the community as the Program & Membership Manager at GRANTMAKERS of Oregon and Southwest Washington.

What do you do for a career? Who do you work for?

I am the Program & Membership Manager at GRANTMAKERS of Oregon and Southwest Washington. We are a community for funders in the region, and provide our members with a place to address issues, explore solutions, celebrate successes, and share best practices.

How long did it take you to find this job?

My “active” job search happened on and off for about a year. I love capacity building work but it is a niche field. It took me some time to figure out my career options in this market and identify the right opportunities for development.

How did you find your job? What resources did you use? What tool or tactic helped the most?

I found my job through Mac’s List! I recommend subscribing to the weekly newsletter because it offers a really good pulse-check on what’s going on in the community– which organizations seem to have a lot of turnover, common pay rates for different roles, etc. This can inform the questions you ask in an interview and give you leverage when negotiating pay.

What was the most difficult part of your job search? How did you overcome this challenge?

As a perfectionist and an over-thinker, my biggest hurdle was simply applying for the job! I spent way too much time trying to write the perfect, most compelling cover letter, and missed some deadlines as a result.

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A resume and cover letter only need to be good enough to secure an interview. Once you get in front of people it’s so much easier to feel each other out and have a dialogue. I started to settle for “good” and saw a lot more traction in my job search. This helped me focus my energy on preparing for the interview.

What is the single best piece of advice you would offer other job-seekers?

Never underestimate the power of cultivating a network of peers and mentors! Seek out and get to know people you admire and respect. Hear their story. It’s an amazing way to get exposure to the diverse stories and career trajectories out there.

Furthermore, I wouldn’t be where I am today without colleagues who helped me see my potential when I couldn’t see it on my own. #perfectionistproblems

Why do you love your job?

We are a small but mighty staff of 3, so it’s been interesting to learn about the unique dynamics of a small organization. As a voraciously curious person, I love wearing a lot of hats and learning from our impressively dedicated community of members and volunteers.

On a broader scale, I enjoy being able to tap into sector-wide conversations and connect with peers across the country. Lastly, I love my job because it plays a critical role in improving the vitality and health of our communities. It is truly such a pleasure to be a part of this work.